(Assistance League of SE Michigan, May 30, 2017)
Pontiac, MI – Feeding hungry Pontiac families in need has gotten simpler, thanks to a monthly, drive-through food pick-up program led by Assistance League® of Southeastern Michigan and assisted by local teenage volunteers.
What began in 2010 as a Backpack Meals program has grown to better meet logistical demands. Food can be heavy and student backpacks aren’t always large, making it difficult for children to get adequate quantities of food home from school. In 2015, the Assistance League food distribution program changed to Backpack Meals mobile, by offering year-round fresh food service, available to those in need, in the form of a drive-through pick-up line at Pontiac High School. Each month, approximately 100 boxes of food are packed and distributed by Assistance League members and high-school students (junior and seniors) who volunteer for community service credit. The 30-pound boxes contain fruit, vegetables, chicken, canned food, pasta, peanut butter and other nutritious food, acquired in partnership with Gleaners Community Food Bank. This streamlined delivery option is beneficial because it is local, convenient and dependable.
Student volunteers both serve and benefit from the program. Ronald, a 12th grader at Pontiac High School, said, “There are many people living in Pontiac that go without food and are not in this line today. I want to give these people here a start to good nutrition.” Recently, two late-arriving cars were disappointed that all 100 boxes had already been distributed. Two student volunteers gave up their own food to make sure the other families were fed.
Assistance League co-chairs, Barbara Donohoe and Diane Ebinger, are pleased that this mobile food distribution program removes some of the barriers that often exist in getting resources. “The program is free to families in Pontiac schools, it requires no prior approval or paperwork, and it is available as needed on a first-come, first-served basis,” Donohoe said. “In addition to feeding 100 families each month, this program also gives student volunteers the experience of serving others. We are both building and serving the community.”
“This is such a successful and needed program here in Pontiac,” said Alicia Carpenter, secretary at Pontiac High School, who helps notify families of the distribution dates and times. “Our students are eager to help and our families are so appreciative.”
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Assistance League of Southeastern Michigan, founded in 1993 and serving Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties, is a nonprofit, all-member volunteer organization whose mission is to clothe, feed, educate and comfort children and adults through community-based programs. With no paid staff, funds raised from the Assistance League ReSale Connection and contributors are returned back to local Michigan communities, helping those in need. For more information, please visit ReSale Connection, 204 S. Main Street, Rochester, MI, 248-656-0414 or www.semich.AssistanceLeague.org.